Sports

Grey Cup champion Redblacks know big decisions loom for 2017 season

OTTAWA — Still basking in the afterglow of their first Grey Cup victory, the Ottawa Redblacks know some hard decisions are coming this off-season.

While general manager Marcel Desjardins will be busy dealing with free agents and acquiring new talent, the biggest question hanging over the Redblacks this off-season could be how they handle its quarterback situation.

Ottawa has Grey Cup MVP Henry Burris and Trevor Harris under contract for 2017 and it's unlikely either would be satisfied with a supporting role next year.

The Redblacks acquired Harris last season with the understanding that he would be the starter for 2017, but Burris has shown he's still a big-game quarterback at age 41 after  his Grey Cup performance.

Burris was unavailable for the final media availability as he dealt with a knee injury suffered during warm-ups at the Grey Cup, but has said he won't make a decision on his future until at least January.

"The whole process with respect to Henry is going to come down to what he wants to do and what he and his family feel is in their best interest moving forward," Desjardins said. "If you were to ask me this at the beginning of the year, which you may have, I would have said I would expect him to be back in 2017, but you never know how things play out.

"If everything is storybook ending then maybe he changes his plans. Obviously the knee issue is something to be considered as well and at the end of the day he'll make a decision that's best for him."

When asked if Harris would be their starter for 2017, Desjardins said "in terms of how the contracts are structured, that is on paper how it will be as of today."

Having played behind quality quarterbacks his entire career, Harris is excited at the prospect of being the number-one guy.

"I just know that I'm ready to be a franchise quarterback and that's just how I feel," Harris said. "That's why I came here. I knew what the situation was this year and was happy to do whatever I needed to do.

"I just know where I'm at as a quarterback and as a person. and the age I'm at and I'm ready to move forward as a franchise guy. Whenever that's my time I'll be ready."

Harris says if Burris returns he'll deal with the situation when the time comes.

Burris was clearly bothered by losing the starter's job this season and if healthy would likely want to play an integral role.

"When we signed Trevor, before we even went down that path, we had a discussion with Henry as it relates to 2017 and what the plan would be," Desjardins said. "Nobody would have expected it necessarily to play out the way it did, but these are circumstances we have to deal with now which is not a bad place to be to be honest with you."

For now Desjardins expects both will be in camp to start the season.

Ottawa will have some big decisions to make as far as its receiving corps as Greg Ellingson, Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams are all set to become free agents.

All three, who had over 1,000 receiving yards the past two seasons, were instrumental to the team's growth and success.

Jackson said he's had no contract discussions as of yet, but would ideally like to return to the Redblacks and get another opportunity to win a Grey Cup in 2017 with as Ottawa as host.

Williams, who is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, said his focus is to get healthy, but was non-committal when asked if his preference would be to re-sign in Ottawa.

The Redblacks also need to make decisions on defensive backs Antoine Pruneau and Abdul Kanneh, who have held significant roles for the defence.